Albert Roussel was one of the most outstanding composers in France during the first several decades of the twentieth century. Roussel began his studies in music relatively late in his life. He did not enter the Schola Cantorum in Paris, where he was a pupil of Vincent d’Indy, until the year 1898. There Roussel continued his studies until 1907. At the same time, however, he started to teach counterpoint at the school from 1902. After WW I Roussel moved to Normandy and died in 1937 in Royan, a city in southwestern of France.
Roussel’s Bacchus et Ariane (Bacchus and Ariadne), Op. 43 is a two-act ballet written in 1930. The work premiered on May 22, 1931 by the Opéra de Paris. Roussel then made two suites using music from the ballet. The first performance of Suite No. 1 took place on April 2, 1933 under the direction of Charles Munch and that of the second, on February 2, 1934, conducted by Pierre Monteux. Suite No. 1 contains five pieces taken from the first act of the ballet. The second suite comprises seven movements, utilizing music from the second act of the theatrical work. The story of Bacchus et Ariane appears in Greek mythology. Deserted by her lover Theseus, Ariane has been left on the island of Naxos. She then is discovered on the shore by the god Bacchus. This classic tale, especially the part where Ariane is abandoned, has been dealt with as the theme of numerous operas and paintings in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.